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Video: Flax Seeds - 10 Reasons To Include Them In Your Healthy Menu
2023 Author: Lynn Laird | [email protected]. Last modified: 2023-05-21 21:10
In a series of articles, our editorial team reveals the health benefits of superfoods. After lupine seeds, Manuka honey, coffee flour, watermelon seeds, green spirulina, sprouted seeds and many others, today we zoom in on the virtues of flax seeds which have been highly regarded for centuries. Nowadays, small brown seeds are also available in the form of oil, capsules and flour. Here are 10 benefits of consuming them that are backed by science.
How can flax seeds help you improve your physical condition?
Some call flax seeds one of the most potent plant foods on the planet. In fact, they were cultivated in Babylon as early as 3000 BC. In the 8th century, King Charlemagne believed in their health benefits so strongly that he passed laws requiring his subjects to eat them. Now, thirteen centuries later, some experts say research shows what Charlemagne suspected.
The brown seeds are found in all kinds of foods today, from crackers to dietetic waffles, granola and ketogenic diet buns. In addition to their food properties, they contain high levels of omega-3 fatty acids and lignans, the positive effects of which on the body we will explain to you below.
1. Source of essential nutrients that promote good health
In fact, flax seeds are one of the oldest crops. There are two types - brown and golden. The recommended serving per day is approximately 1 tablespoon (7 g). This amount provides you with a healthy dose of protein, fiber and fatty acids, in addition to being a rich source of vitamins and minerals, such as potassium, calcium, magnesium and phosphorus, which is useful. to fill the deficiencies resulting from the diet.
One tablespoon of ground flax seeds contains the following:
- Calories: 37
- Protein: 1.3 g
- Carbohydrates: 2 g
- Fiber: 1.9 g
- Total fat: 3 g
- Saturated fat: 0.3 g
- Monounsaturated fat: 0.5 g
- Polyunsaturated fats: 2.0 g
- Omega-3 fatty acids: 1597 mg
- Vitamin B1: 8% of the recommended daily allowance for an adult
- Vitamin B6: 2% of the recommended daily allowance for an adult
- Folic acid: 2% of the recommended daily allowance for an adult
- Calcium: 2% of the recommended daily allowance for an adult
- Iron: 2% of the recommended daily allowance for an adult
- Magnesium: 7% of the recommended daily allowance for an adult
- Phosphorus: 4% of the recommended daily allowance for an adult
- Potassium: 2% of the recommended daily allowance for an adult
2. Source of omega-3 fatty acids which have anti-inflammatory properties
If you are a vegetarian or don't eat fish, flax seeds can be your best ally in meeting your daily needs for omega-3 and alpha-linolenic acids. The intake of the latter is very important for the body because it cannot produce it on its own.
Animal studies have shown that alpha-linolenic acid in flax seeds prevents cholesterol from depositing in the blood vessels of the heart, thereby reducing inflammation in the arteries, and preventing tumor growth. Another study of 3,638 people also found that those who swallowed more of the acid in question had a lower risk of heart attack.
3. The lignans in flax seeds have the ability to reduce the risk of cancer
Lignans are plant compounds that have antioxidant and estrogenic properties which can in turn reduce the risk of cancer. An interesting fact is that the small seeds contain up to 800 times more lignans than other foods of plant origin.
Observational studies show that women who eat flaxseeds regularly have a lower risk of breast cancer, especially postmenopausal women. However, men can also benefit from their consumption. For example, in a small study of 15 men, those who received 30g of the brown seeds per day while following a low-fat diet, showed reduced levels of a prostate cancer marker, suggesting a lower risk of developing the disease.
4. Rich source of dietary fiber stimulating good digestion
Just one tablespoon of flaxseed gives you 3g of fiber, or 8-12% of the recommended daily allowance for men and women. The soluble (20–40%) and insoluble (60–80%) fiber duo undergoes fermentation by bacteria in the large intestine, causing its contents to swell and resulting in more regular bowel movements. This whole process optimizes the speed of digestion in order to regulate blood sugar and lower cholesterol.
On the other hand, insoluble fiber allows more water to bind to the stool to make it softer. This is useful for preventing constipation and for relieving irritable bowel syndrome and diverticular disease.
5. Reduction of bad cholesterol
Another health benefit of flax seeds is their ability to lower cholesterol levels. In a study of people affected by the problem, consuming 3 tablespoons (30 g) of flaxseed per day for three months lowered total cholesterol by 17% and "bad" LDL cholesterol by almost 20%.. Another study of people with diabetes found that taking one tablespoon (10g) of flaxseed powder per day for a month resulted in a 12% increase in “good” HDL cholesterol. Recently, in postmenopausal women, taking 30 g of flaxseed per day has lowered total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol by approximately 7% and 10% respectively.
These positive effects appear to be due to the fiber contained in the seeds as it binds to bile salts and is then excreted by the body. To replenish these bile salts, cholesterol is transported from your blood to your liver. This process lowers your blood cholesterol level.
6. Blood pressure control
Studies of flax seeds have generally focused on their natural ability to lower blood pressure. A Canadian study found that consuming 30 g of this food per day for six months lowered systolic and diastolic blood pressure by 10 mmHg and 7 mmHg respectively. In addition, according to a large review, daily intake of flax seeds for more than three months causes a decrease in blood pressure by 2 mmHg. Although it may seem insignificant, such a reduction can prevent death from stroke (10% of cases) or heart disease (7% of cases).
7. Source of high quality vegetable protein
Brown seeds are a real bomb of plant proteins, containing arginine, aspartic acid and glutamic acid. Numerous laboratory and animal studies have shown that these proteins improve immune function, lower cholesterol, prevent tumors, and have antifungal properties.
On the other hand, if you are planning to cut down on your meat intake and are worried about being too hungry, flax seeds may well be a solution. During a recent study, 21 adults were given a meal of animal protein or plant protein. The result: no difference was seen in terms of appetite, satiety or food intake. Protein meals are also likely to stimulate hormones in the gut to make you feel satisfied, which leads to eating less at the next meal.
8. Blood sugar control
Type 2 diabetes is a major health problem around the world. It is characterized by high blood sugar levels due to the body's inability to secrete insulin or its resistance to this hormone. A few studies have shown that people with the disease who added 10-20g of flax powder to their daily diet for at least a month saw 8-20% reductions in their blood sugar levels. This hypoglycemic effect is notably due to the insoluble fiber content of flax seeds. Research shows that these fibers slow down the release of sugar into the blood and thereby lower blood sugar.
However, we cannot speak of a treatment for diabetes. Overall, brown seeds can be a beneficial and nutritious addition to the diet of people with the disease.
9. Weight loss
If you tend to snack between meals, you may want to consider adding flax seeds to your drinks to prevent hunger pangs. One study indicates that adding 2.5g of ground flax fiber extract to a liquid reduces appetite and gurgling sounds.
The reduced hunger is probably a result of the soluble fiber content of the seeds. This slows down digestion in the stomach, which triggers the release of a multitude of hormones that control appetite and make you feel full, which can sometimes lead to weight loss.
10. Flax seeds can be a versatile ingredient in your culinary preparations
Indeed, flax seeds and flaxseed oil can be added to many common foods such as salads, cereal bowls, fruit yogurts, cookies and muffins, bread rolls and pasta, smoothies. and even in your glasses of water. Plus, it's a great substitute for eggs in some recipes.
What about linseed oil?
In recent years, there has been a resurgence in the use of flaxseed oil, whose nutritional properties and health benefits are increasingly appreciated. This natural product is extracted through a process called cold pressing. Since the oil is sensitive to heat and light, it is best to store it in dark glass bottles in a dark and cool place.
It should be noted that flaxseed oil contains more alpha-linolenic acid than the seeds. Nevertheless, flaxseeds contain a host of other beneficial nutrients that are not included in the composition of the extracted oil, such as fiber.
Although this is a very useful product for the body, doctors still recommend drinking plenty of water with the seeds and consuming no more than 1-5 scoops per day for healthy people. Among the harmful side effects of excessive consumption are:
Flax seeds naturally contain plant compounds called cyanogenic glycosides which bind to sulfur compounds in the body to form thiocyanates. Large amounts of thiocyanates can affect thyroid function. People with thyroid problems should therefore limit consumption as this may cause a toxic effect.
The phytic acid in flax seeds can reduce the absorption of certain minerals such as iron and zinc. This is indeed a problem for people who suffer from a deficiency.
For people who are not used to eating a lot of fiber, the components in the seeds can cause mild digestive problems. These include bloating, gas, abdominal pain, and nausea. So, it is best to start with small doses - up to one or two tablespoons per day.
Risks during pregnancy
Although there are few studies on this topic, many healthcare professionals are concerned that consuming flaxseed during pregnancy could have side effects. This is due to phytoestrogens which can act in the same way as estrogen, female sex hormones. Above, we have already talked about lignans. In this case, they can affect the development of the reproductive system of the embryo and as a result cause the baby to lose weight at birth. That is why, during this period of women's life, they should refrain from eating foods rich in phytoestrogens. This also includes some soy products.
Large doses of omega-3 fatty acids can have anticoagulant effects. If you have blood clotting disorders or are taking any medication, consult your doctor before including large amounts of flaxseed in your diet.